7 Awesome Camera Tips for Young Filmmakers

Check out these great camera tips from Patrick Cady, ASC, Paige Thomas, SOC, David E. Elkins, SOC and more…
Above photo by @frankiefilms_xu, Boston-based cinematographer and filmmaker based.


7 Awesome Camera Tips for Young Filmmakers


Tip #1

“Open your eyes and look within, you’ll see all the answers sought. Reading the manual helps too!”
~Rick Siegel

Tip #2

“One of my favorite camera movement techniques which is used in movies such as ‘Jaws’, ‘Vertigo’, and ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’, is the dolly zoom movement. You will need some sort of dolly system to pull this off as best as possible. During the shooting of the shot, the camera tracks either in or out from the subject of the shot. Meanwhile the camera operator also zooms in or out, the opposite way the camera is tracking, at a speed which keeps the subject the same size in the frame throughout the whole shot. This movement when done at the proper speed of tracking and zooming will create the illusion that the background is getting bigger or smaller throughout the shot compared to the subject. It is a very unsettling and wonderful shot to experiment with and really quite a cool camera illusion as well when you pull it off.”
~Jared Myers

Read more in our Community Spotlight on Jared Myers. At the time of this spotlight, Jared Myers was a student cinematographer. He talks about his start in filmmaking, his favorite cameras, shares 3 Camera Movement Tips, and more…

Tip #3

“I always make sure my camera crew carries extras of all my camera connectors, and even spare parts to conduct field surgery if necessary. And how do I know which parts are more likely to be needed? Because of the research I conducted before production from people’s experiences using the camera out in the real world. If I can save myself and my production crew time, money, and aggravation by making sure we are carrying a little bag with some extra adaptors and connectors, why not do it? Even if they end up not being needed, the peace of mind you get by over-preparing frees you to be more creative on set to concentrate on what really matters: sharing your vision with the world.”
~Gustavo Mercado

Read more in our exclusive interview, “Camerawork Tips from Gustavo Mercado.” Gustavo talks about one of the most important things he learned while working on set, and the most challenging problem solved on set. He also shares common mistakes new filmmakers should avoid in relation to camerawork and camera movement. You can also find his Top 3 Camerawork Tips here!

Tip #4

“It’s important to prep visually and keep reminding yourself that you’re not making a novel. So, in reading scripts the number one note I give myself all the time is HTS, which stands for How To Show. So, it’s common, and I can see why, and I don’t claim to be a screenwriter because I’m not, but it’s common to run into moments where things get described that you can’t actually see. Hence, Tim’s Niece walks into the room, she’s upset with Tim. Well, this reflects they’re related to each other and how she feels. How do we show all that? That’s why you need to know what the story’s about, and then, prepping visually, you can help tell that story. You can think about transitions from scene to scene and how you can help counterpoint what people do with what people say. That’s how drama really works.”
~Patrick Cady, ASC

Read more in our exclusive interview with Patrick Cady, ASC. Patricks talks about his experience as a cinematographer who has occasionally transitioned to the director’s chair, and his role as producer for the documentary “Triviatown.” Patrick also shares his Top 3 Camerawork Tips and more!

Tip #5

“Keep it simple and true to the story. Sometimes, simpler is better.”
~Paige Thomas, SOC

Read our exclusive interview, “Shooting for TV and Film: Q&A with Paige Thomas, SOC.” Paige talks about one of her most favorite scenes to shoot, and some of the key differences shooting for episodic television series and feature films in her experience. She also shares one of the most important things she learned on set. You can also read her Top 3 Camera Movement Tips here!

Tip #6

“Watch rehearsals.”
~David E. Elkins, SOC

Read more in our exclusive interview, “Camera Tips from David E. Elkins, SOC.” David Elkins SOC, has over 30 years of professional experience as a Camera Operator and First Assistant Cameraman, working on feature films, television series, commercials, music videos, educational films, industrial films, and much more. He has also taught classes and workshops on both the East and West Coasts of the United States. He has been an active member of the International Cinematographers Guild Local 600 since 1989 and the Society of Camera Operators since 1992.

Tip #7

“Use your HDSLR every day and learn it well. Focus on what you find difficult until you resolve it, so you don’t botch a real job. For example, if you’re returning from night film trips with grainy footage, figure out why and resolve it.”
~Dan Banici

Check out our Community Spotlight with Dan Banici, independent filmmaker and videographer. At the time of this spotlight, we were all shooting with different kinds of DSLR cameras and maximizing these awesome still cameras with video recording capabilities. Are you still shooting DSLR? Tell us more! Share your production stills in the Filmmakers Network.


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